Maybe you just made the decision to invest in yourself and purchase your first electric bike, or maybe you’re rediscovering the joy that your two-wheeled companion brought into your life. As you’ve grown to know the in’s and out’s of your ebike and discovered the tools needed to build your safety kit, at some point, you’ve probably thought to yourself, ‘What kind of biking clothes do I need?’
Electric bikes, specifically Roll-Road ebikes, are all about inclusivity and sustainability. What we mean by this is that you don’t need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe dedicated to cycling attire to feel like you belong. Nor do you necessarily need to wear ‘legitimate’ biking attire to get out into the world and enjoy your bike. Although, if you want to do this, then we’ve got a concise list of recommendations for you too!
While traditional cycling attire certainly has its benefits - the cut and cloth are designed specifically for the activity and vibrant colors are selected to make sure you’re visible to others while on the road - the look and feel aren’t necessarily for everyone. There’s no spoken or unspoken rule that says you can’t wear almost any outdoor clothing or workout gear when biking, so long as it is comfortable and it can make you visible to others. Knowing this, let’s dive into some different categories of biking outfits, and give you some inspiration on what to wear!
A quick ‘biking shirts’ Google search will result in about 1,000 different jerseys, both in long sleeves and short sleeves. Traditional bike jerseys tend to be made of breathable materials, with their key features being they are moisture-wicking (quick to absorb sweat) and quick-drying (once absorbed, quick to dry). These features are great to have in biking attire because they not only help you regulate your body temperature but also make for an enjoyable ride!
Wearing your comfortable gym tee, band tee, or a simple yet comfortable t-shirt will work just as well! Did you catch onto the keyword: comfortable? Whatever top you decide to wear, first and foremost make sure it’s comfortable, and second, you select clothing that does not restrict the movement of your arms. Excessively restrictive, tight clothing can not only affect the length of your ride but also jeopardize and interfere with your ability to safely steer and navigate as you use the electric assists. You want your clothes to work with you, not against you!
At any season, you can elect to wear short or long sleeves. It will ultimately depend on the weather you’re biking in and your own personal tolerance and preference. Shorter sleeves for warmer days seem like the obvious choice, whereas longer sleeves for cooler days. However, sun sleeves (similar to what you see your favorite athletes wearing during summer!) exist as extra protection for your forearms from harmful UV rays while thermal arm warmers (again, the slip on your favorite athlete’s arms while it’s cold and they’re practicing during off-season!) exist for added warmth. Like we said, personal preference!
Jackets and hoodies aren’t a summertime necessity when it comes to biking outfits, but they can come in handy as cooler seasons set in! Typically, the body temperature we start our bike ride at is not the temperature we will remain in throughout. As we start to pedal and work up a sweat, even if for a brisk ride, our internal temperatures will begin to elevate. We may feel warmer, stickier, or sweatier. For this reason, we recommend wearing layers and not bundling up right from the get-go.
For average temperatures, any thin, long-sleeved jacket, hoodie, or cardigan will keep you both warm and cool. As long as it has a zipper! A light jacket should give you just the right amount of warmth throughout mild autumn weather. But if you start to heat up, the zipper functionality allows you to more easily cool down if needed; simply unzip your outerwear, and you’ll get a nice breeze.
Sweatshirts and pullovers are better bike riding clothes for cooler temperatures, weather permitting of course. If without a shadow of a doubt, it’s cold to the point you won’t want to take off your sweatshirt, then it’s probably a good sign to wear it! If snow or rain will be making regular appearances where you live, then you’ll want to wear something much more durable, bringing us to:
Rain or shine, if you need to get from point A to B on your electric bike, we’ve also got your biking attire needs covered! Waterproof outerwear for biking can get tricky. You don’t necessarily need to splurge, but you also don’t want to cheat yourself out of a proper jacket if you anticipate getting caught in multiple bits of rain. If you already have a go-to waterproof jacket, then you’re likely good to go! Just make sure that your current jacket is fully waterproof, breathable, moveable, and is long enough to cover your back when seated and/or positioned forward. There’s nothing worse than a tight-fitting jacket that catches your arms if you try to move forward. If you’re on the market for a waterproof jacket to meet your biking needs, here are some factors to consider:
- Is it waterproof?
- Is it insulated?
- Is it durable enough?
- Is it lightweight?
- Is it breathable?
- Is it visible?
To bike, inherently, is to pedal, right? So, taking into consideration that our legs tend to do most of the work while biking, wearing the right bottoms is imperative to feeling good and riding even better. Just as a bike’s purpose varies for everyone, individual comfort levels will also vary. Consider some of our suggestions below for the next time you ask yourself what to wear when biking!
Biking shorts, basketball shorts, sports shorts, women’s biker shorts, skorts, and all the like are a green light for warmer weather biking clothes! Here are some things to keep in mind when going to grab a pair of shorts from your wardrobe:
- Comfortable, but not baggy - You want your legs to move freely, but if your bottoms are too loose, the fabric may get caught in or around the mechanics of your electric bike. Hopefully, those weren’t your favorite shorts!
- Not too long, and not too short - You’ll want to have enough coverage while you’re pedaling, and besides, no one has ever been comfortable constantly pulling their shorts down while they drag up, right? Your focus should be soaking in the scenery of your bike ride, not getting frustrated with your shorts!
Bike pants, leggings, sweatpants, joggers, and even jeans if that’s your thing, are perfect alternatives to bike shorts, especially for cooler temperatures. Keeping in mind, biking pants specifically will offer certain features that traditional bottoms won’t, like wind protection or fully waterproof. The same points listed above apply here; when going to grab a pair of pants from your wardrobe, make sure they’re comfortably fitted and are a proper length for your height. Pants that are too baggy can get caught in your chain or gears, causing rips, stains, and injuries. Similarly, pants that are too long can also drag on the ground or get caught in your pedals, also causing rips, stains, and unsafe riding conditions.
The right shoes should be a no-brainer, but it’s important to note nonetheless. Most electric bikes come with standard flat pedals, meaning you won’t have to worry about wearing shoes that “clip” into a pedal, or lock in place. Knowing that, footwear can seem like a free for all: anything goes! But that’s incorrect. Sandals can be worn, preferably shorter distances, if biking safely, but this still leaves feet exposed to dirt, debris, and even possible accidents. That’s why we strongly recommend wearing closed-toe shoes when biking. This means the perfectly broken-in tennis shoes that you otherwise may not wear to run errands are actually an excellent biking outfit!
Although it’s not clothing per se, headgear should still be at the top of your list of things to wear. That means a properly fitted helmet. Your helmet should securely fit the diameter of your head, with no excess space towards the front or rear. If you’re able to fit a finger in any side of your helmet while it’s being worn, you know it’s too loose. Likewise, your helmet should not be swaying too far forward, interfering with your field of vision.
Caps and Headbands
These accessories will typically be more applicable in colder months, but caps are a great addition to helmets, as are headbands! Cycling caps, not traditional ‘ball caps,’ act as a barrier between your head and your helmet, and can come in a variety of materials. They typically are worn when a biker is needing extra warmth while riding and some can even act as a windbreaker. Headbands accomplish a similar goal, keeping areas of your forehead as well as ears warm underneath your helmet, without needing overall head coverage. Just remember, if you’ll be wearing a secondary material on your head, you’ll want to adjust your helmet accordingly!
Consider sunglasses as well for eye protection! Not only will they protect you against harmful UV rays, but will shield your eyes from dirt and debris that may blow in your direction. There are specialized cycling glasses, goggles, or you can opt to wear your own pair of sunglasses! However, if you’re someone that can’t live without their polarized lenses, just be aware that some LCD displays on electric bikes may interfere with the polarizing effects of your glasses.
A FINAL NOTE ON SAFETY
We live in a vastly colorful world. Therefore, we encourage making it a habit to wear bright-colored biking clothes when riding so you will remain visible to other cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles! Not to mention, wearing some form of reflective clothing (vests, jackets, helmets) if not adding reflective gear to your ebike. All of this to say, certain safety guidelines also apply to biking outfits and the clothing you choose to wear. So the next time you think to yourself “What type of bike ride outfits should I wear?” remember some of these guidelines and don’t forget to still have fun!